The Manhattans are a popular R&B vocal group with a string of hit records spanning four decades, their best-known million-selling songs being "Kiss and Say Goodbye" and "Shining Star" in 1976 and 1980, respectively.
----The Manhattans, originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, formed in 1962 with members Edward "Sonny" Bivins - born in Macon, Georgia - George "Smitty" Smith, Winfred "Blue" Lovett, Kenny "Wally" Kelley and Richard "Ricky" Taylor. All five enlisted in the armed forces and came together as a group following their discharges from their respective branches.
Sonny or “Dip, as everybody knows him, wanted to become a professional baseball player. He played minor league baseball with the local team called the Jersey City All-Stars, but he soon realized that entertainment was in his future.
Sonny wrote some of the early popular Manhattan songs. Songs like “Follow Your Heart” / “I’m the One Love Forgot”/ “I call it Love”/ “Baby I’m Sorry,” just too name a few. These songs were instrumental in shaping the Manhattans sound. When the group signed under (CBS) Columbia Records in 1972, their first hit there was a song that Sonny wrote which would start a string of 8 straight top ten hits for the Manhattans. That song turned out to be “There’s No Me Without You” also in that string of hits was another song, which Sonny collaborated with Gerald Alston to write, called “ We Never Dance To A Love Song.”
The group's first single was "For the Very First Time," released in 1964 by Carnival Records. They continued recording with great success with songs written by various members of the group. In 1968, the group received the "Most Promising Group" award by NATRA.
In 1969, the group moved to the De Luxe record label of King Records. In 1970 George Smith fell down a flight of stairs and later took ill. Unable to perform, the group began to search for a new lead. Gerald Alston accepted and took over the lead spot. George Smith died of a brain tumor December 16, 1970.
The Manhattans continued recording throughout the 1970s with Alston singing lead vocals. They struck chart gold in 1976 with "Kiss and Say Goodbye," written by Blue Lovett. Featuring an impassioned vocal by Alston and a memorable opening rap by Lovett, the song quickly became a #1 chart topper on both the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. It also became only the second single ever to go platinum.
Taylor left in 1976 to concentrate on his conversion to Islam (but died in 1987 after a long illness). The group continued as a quartet and found further success in March of 1980 with the release of "Shining Star," which reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and #4 on the R&B Chart. Produced and co-written by established Chicago producer Leo Graham, it received a Grammy award the following spring.
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On October 28th 1999, Sonny received the key to the City of Atlanta Ga., and a proclamation claiming October 28th Sonny Bivins day in Atlanta Ga. The following year on February 25th 2000 Sonny was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall Of Fame and received the R&B Pioneer Award, along with (Kenneth Kelley, Winfred“Blue” Lovett) the only two other original surviving members that sang with the Manhattans.
For more about Sonny Bivens and The Manhattans, visit their Website at -